This fall, Duquesne University in Pittsburgh will become the first academic institution in the U.S. and globally to offer a dual degree in nursing and biomedical engineering for undergraduate students, according to a news release.
“Duquesne has pioneered the integration of clinical knowledge and patient care with engineering techniques in a single program, creating the first bachelor’s degree of its kind,” Provost Timothy Austin, PhD, said in the release.
The five-year program will provide students with a foundational body of knowledge that keeps patient care and practical application at the core of studies supporting innovations and technological advances.
The joint degree could prove a tremendous value to employers and patients, said John Viator, PhD, director of Duquesne’s biomedical engineering program.
By gaining actual clinical experience, students also will develop new perspectives with respect to a patient’s health and functional needs. “Engineers do not always fully appreciate the hospital culture and the clinical needs of patients,” Mary Ellen Glasgow, RN, PhD, FAAN, dean and professor of the School of Nursing, said in the release. “This dual degree gives our students both the engineering and nursing perspectives to solve real world clinical problems.”
In addition to learning engineering and nursing, students will benefit from class and clinical experiences that incorporate the Toyota Production System principles (used to address safety, cost and efficiency) and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses’ Synergy Model.
Job opportunities for biomedical engineers are expected to grow 27% between 2012 and 2022, and nursing careers are expected to expand by 19% in the same timeframe, according to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With the combined knowledge and skills of the two disciplines, opportunities may be limitless for the “nurse engineer,” Viator and Glasgow predict.
“Our students will begin their careers with the preparation, knowledge and worldview usually seen in those with years of experience in the field,” Austin said in the release. “This exciting BME/BSN partnership illustrates Duquesne’s innovative academic programs and the university’s focus on preparing students with the knowledge and skills to serve others.”